Anardika Prologue : Either saved or destroyed
]]art log 4981 4 18 1200 Art: Final call on the vote.
]]art log 4981 4 18 1201 Art: For 2912 ; against 1086 ; not voting 2 = passed by sufficient majority.
2 Merjin 4983 | Vae Arahi
I’ve told you that Chevenga still trains every day for two aer or so, I think. Did I tell you he even still spars? Practice-fighting is allowed for asakraiyaseyel, I guess because no one gets hurt, at least intentionally.
In fact once after Kallijas came back to Vae Arahi, since Minis came of age and took over as Imperator, Kall said to me when I was checking him, “You know what’s odd? Sheng’s actually become better since he hung up the sword. We used to be about even but now he can take me three out of five… without using any asa kraiya tricks, he says, whatever they are. I don’t know how it can be so. He said something about all of himself now being aligned, but I never thought it wasn’t… but it’s true, he’s better. Does that mean if a real war happens and he decides to pick up the sword again, he’ll get worse again? I don’t understand this asa kraiya stuff.”
I could only say, “Neither do I.”
Anyway, today when Chevenga was training in the training room, one of the warriors he trains with came running into the clinic. It’s been so long since I heard “Kanincha asako sae Chevenga!” that it’s almost unfamiliar.
I found him lying on the floor face down with his head on his arm, fully conscious, not wounded anywhere, while the others patted his back and gave him whack-weed. “I’m dizzy,” he said. “So much so I can’t stand… I fell over… I can’t even keep my balance leaning on my elbows. I know I have the strength to walk but the room is spinning so hard I can’t. And it’s not even easing up, let alone stopping… it’s making me sick.”
“Get a litter, if no one’s sent for one already,” I said to the others.
“No, I’m fine for walking, I just need someone to guide me,” he said, which let me know for certain they hadn’t sent for a litter; he hadn’t let them. “It’s not like this is anything life-threatening.”
“Actually, there are life-threatening things it could be,” I said. “You stay right where you are, and relax as best you can. Make your breaths deeper, gently.” He was panting a little, more afraid than he wanted to admit. “What happened, did anyone else see?”
“I was against him.” It was Kyirya Sencheli, who’d saved his life from Younger Riji Kli-fas. “I elbowed him in the brow—when I knew I was going to hit, I pulled it but couldn’t quite enough. But it wasn’t hard at all… like this.” He bumped me in the shoulder with his elbow, and it was only enough to hurt slightly, for a moment. Kyirya is an honest and conscientious young man, so I knew he wasn’t lying by minimizing. That and Chevenga’s life-energy through his wrists told me what it was.
We carried him to the water-room, then when he’d bathed, into his own bed. When it was just him, me and Skorsas, he let on to me how afraid he was. “It’s not going away,” he said. “The spinning’s not stopping. I keep thinking maybe it’s slowing, but I think that might be wishful thinking… is there a basin close?” I gave him iper and fast netsalf, ipek also to control the nausea as I didn’t want him to take the strain of vomiting, not now. That all got it easing well enough that he became sure it was. “Now just rest,” I said. “Close your eyes, relax completely. Best would be to sleep.”
“You’re not telling me what it is,” he said. I’d been planning to leave it until after he’d slept and, Spirit of Life willing, was no longer dizzy and therefore not so afraid. “I know it’s not just from him hitting me; it wasn’t hard enough even to knock me back. It’s from having my chimes rung so many times, isn’t it?”
He wasn’t going to let me leave it until after he’d slept. Perhaps he felt he wouldn’t be able to. I can’t blame him, for wanting to know right then.
Mamin, I have created a distinct patient-history file just on the concussions he’s taken. So I know exactly how many they’ve been, the length of time he was unconscious for each, how his life-energy read, and the aftereffects. I’ve seen the acute aftereffects get worse and worse and take longer and longer to disappear each time, more clearly than he has; I’ve seen the chronic effects increase. I’ve told him many times the effects are cumulative and ultimately incurable. But the way he lives his life, he keeps getting them.
For the last three years, it’s been better; he’s stayed away not only from war but from the Circle School Games, which is where he got one of the worst ones, after falling off a horse (no one knows exactly how it happened, because he never remembered and no one else saw clearly). But it’s still now and then. And he gets headaches and fleeting dizzy spells every day or two, and he’ll always say, “Ehh, I’m fine, it’s just the price of having been a warrior.” (I think on whatever memorial they raise to him when he does finally pass on, his epitaph should be, “I’m fine!”) Now this, the first head impact he’s had in more than a year, and it’s affected him like this even though it was light.
“Yes,” I said. “Remember I said that it’s cumulative.”
He closed his eyes for a moment, his expression bone-tired. He’s had the happiest three years in his life, but now he looked like before that. “So I’m going to be like this for the rest of my life,” he said, opening them again to peer at me as if he wasn’t going to believe what I said unless he saw my face at the same time. “Delicate-headed.”
“Yes,” I said. I know it’s possible that he won’t, that he’ll actually have slow healing. But better a kind surprise than a bitter one.
“Kyash,” he said softly. “The thing that I never considered for so long, because I didn’t think I had to… the rest of my life is going to be a kyashin long time.”
I just put my hand on his shoulder. What else can you do? Say “I told you so”?
At the time he was ingraining his habits into himself, he didn’t know how long his life was going to be.
He closed his eyes again—I know it doesn’t ease the spinning, but it least it makes it less visual—and said, “Let’s get it over with: tell me my strictures.”
Mamin, what can you do? You can’t wrap a person like him in hand-span-thick gauze. What I prescribed would be a compromise only, just lowering his odds, not truly protecting him. Was I going to tell him never to fly or ride or climb mountains or spar again?
“First, no Games,” I said.
“No worries there,” he said. “I’ll never fight in them again.”
“Because… but I thought asa kraiya allowed it…?” A Game is really a big huge practice-fight, with no one getting hurt intentionally.
“Oh no, it’s not that. It’s that after last time, the dean asked me never to come back. I made things too… unpredictably predictable, she said. I was too large a factor.”
I wasn’t sure what he meant by that, except that he’d caused trouble of some sort by his presence. Somehow it wasn’t surprising. I just said, “Well, all right, then.” I’d been braced for an argument.
“No competitions that involve anything fight-like or any mountain-climbing.” I’d let him run or swim or throw javelins; people don’t get concussions that often doing those things. I didn’t forbid him hish-ka or wing-relaying; when people have accidents there, they’re generally dead anyway. “For sparring, climbing, flying, horse or mamoka-back riding, you must wear a peace-time helmet I’m having made for you. Haian-style… you didn’t think we made them, did you?”
“No, I didn’t,” he said, his eyes perplexed and intrigued. “For delicate-headed people?”
“Who either can’t refrain from such activities due to the requirements of their lives, or won’t because they don’t have the sense to,” I said.
He closed his eyes again. “Probably I shouldn’t ask you which of those two categories you think I fall into.”
Because he felt he probably shouldn’t ask me, I didn’t answer. “It will not make you absolutely safe from concussions,” I said. “You know how helmets are; a hard-enough blow is your doom anyway. But it will make any impact that happens less sharp, causing less damage in the brain, and so betters your chances. In addition, you must just take extra care to protect your head always. Whenever you’re judging a risk, or even if you’re in some kind of emergency, you must take this into account. I’ll be speaking to Krero about it, asking him to order all your bodyguards to be mindful of it and make sure they guard your head if needed, and remind you if you seem to be forgetting… oh, no kriffiyah-ing.”
“I thought that went without saying.” After the first time he did it, to get off asa kraiya island for his twins’ birth, he decided to practice it until he mastered doing it without injury. One of his earlier attempts is recorded in his concussion file.
“What else… that’s all I can think of, but I might add more as it comes to me,” I said. “If you buck it, I’ll go to Assembly and have them give it the force of law.”
“I’m not going to buck anything,” he said. “I consent to all this.”
Mamin, I am thinking I’ll never again wait until he’s more recovered and thus less afraid before laying strictures on him. Who ever thought it would be so easy?
“For the rest of my life…” He turned over in the bed and pulled the covers over his head. I laid my hand on his back. He didn’t sob and I didn’t see his tears, but I felt in my heart he was weeping.
I hadn’t thought it was possible to be changed completely within a tenth-bead session with an aura-seeing healer, but I was. The rest, over the next nine moons, was really just the stubborn parts of me catching up. Afterwards, though I was only twenty-nine, I thought that going asa kraiya would be the most intense experience I would ever have in my life. What could top it?
Going asa kraiya, though, was only about changing what I thought of myself and what I would do, or more exactly, not do, with the rest of my life. It didn’t change the method by which I thought, felt, spoke, gained knowledge, moved or lived, or my aloneness within my own mind, or my physical health. It didn’t reveal to me the full truth of the full course of human history, or lift me to the height above the earth at which there is no air at all.
Nor did it promise all these things to everyone else in the world as well, or introduce to us the way in which the whole world might be either saved or destroyed. It didn’t show me the people who could do it. Or determine absolutely and inescapably what I would do with the rest of my life.
That all happened when I was thirty-two.